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Behind the Scenes at ‘The Daily Show’: My Day at the Fake News Headquarters

When I told the producer at The Daily Show that Jon Stewart was taller than I thought he was going to be, he responded with “That’s the first time anyone has ever said that.”

Admittedly, I only saw him from across a room and there’s a good chance that there might’ve been some weird optical illusion going on, but really, I’m a fan of the show and after ten solid years of jokes about how short he was, I was expecting him to be like a more politically aware member of the Lollipop Guild. As it turns out, he’s just slightly shorter than average.I saw Jon Stewart while I was at The Daily Show‘s New York City studios to film the segment that aired last night, in which correspondent Aasif Mandvi covered the controversy over Nightrunner, the French representative of Batman, Inc. who is also comics’ newest Muslim character. If you haven’t already seen it, you can watch the piece here at ComicsAlliance, with commentary by Andy Khouri, who also covered the controversy back when Nightrunner’s first appearance hit stands.

I was brought in as an expert on Batman, which struck me as funny considering that I was staying at a hotel that was literally a block away from the actual offices of DC Comics. But I’ve got to admit that I was pretty excited that all my hard work here at CA had finally paid off: I had become the go-to expert on Batmanology for late-night basic cable comedy programming. I was now officially a talking head.

I’m not going to lie, it was a pretty big deal for me. It was also my second trip to New York City and my first without having to spend eight hours a day at the Javitz Center for a comic book convention, which meant I got to see a little more of it than I had before. Of course, I also managed to arrive in the middle of a snowstorm, and as I’m from South Carolina, I ended up having to buy a set of amazingly ugly boots while I was there just to keep my sock budget within reason. You’d think I’d read enough Batman comics to know that the victory is in the preparation, but that’s apparently not the case.

Since I’m still pretty unfamiliar with the city, I was worried that I might have a hard time locating the studios. Fortunately, the building has a gigantic 40-foot picture of Stewart on a banner outside — also bigger in person than you might expect — which I imagine was done for my benefit.

The producers had told me beforehand that the shoot was going to take around two hours — they assured me we’d be able to take breaks, as though I couldn’t just sit there and talk about Batman all morning without stopping — and that from that, they’d edit down to fit in a four-minute segment. So in case you were wondering, yes: Somewhere, there’s footage of me explaining the entire plot of Batman Inc and explaining why the fact that Nightrunner explicitly rejects terrorism is an interesting mirror to the depiction of Dick Grayson as someone who would’ve fallen into the self-destructive trap of vengeance if Batman hadn’t been around to show him a better path to heroism.

I know, right? I can’t understand why something that interesting to people who aren’t me didn’t make it on television either!

Regardless, it probably won’t surprise anyone that everyone I talked to at the studio was very nice, very funny, and at least in Aasif Mandvi’s case, dreamily handsome.

No lie, he is a good looking dude. And he used to be Spider-Man’s boss. That’s what we call “marriage material,” ladies. Seriously, you should see him do parkour in person. It’s life-changing.

As to the piece itself, I think it goes without saying that I disagree in the strongest possible terms with pretty much everything that cartoonist Bosch Fawstin said in his segments, but the one thing that really sticks out to me is his idea that we don’t know if Nightunner is actually a secret terrorist.

At this point, Nightrunner has been in exactly two (2) comics, both of which detail his origin and involve Batman — who, Jason Todd aside, tends to be a pretty good judge of character — bringing him on as a member of his team. There is absolutely no reason to assume that he’s a “jihadist,” unless you don’t believe that someone can be a Muslim without being a terrorist, a ludicrous an infuriatingly common piece of bigotry.

To be fair, Fawstin is technically correct: Nightrunner could in fact turn out to be a Jihadist. He could also turn out to be a shape-shfiting martian, or a secret Dracula, or a robot created by Lex Luthor, or even Daywalker, the real Nightrunner’s evil counterpart from Earth-3. All of which are scenarios that I’m pretty sure are more likely than the sudden reveal that he’s infiltrating Batman’s team to commit acts of terror. He is a fictional character. He is incapable of duping DC Comics into thinking he’s something he isn’t, because he was entirely created by DC Comics. This is a pretty basic understanding of the nature of fiction here.

Other than that, the one thing that really sticks out at me is that The Daily Show misspelled my name.

This is not exactly an unusual occurrence for me. I was once referred to as “Dave Sim,” explaining why I suddenly thought of all women as leech-like emotional voids, and a review of a comic I wrote once got a review that hit the trifecta of getting my name, the artist’s name and the title wrong, then went the extra mile by identifying the main character’s brother as her love interest.

Seriously though, Daily Show: You messed up on “Chris Sims” but got “Bosch Fawstin right? It’s four letters, guys. Get it together.

Fortunately, the magic of PhotoShop can help.

Ah. That’s better.

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